Claire: Yeah, so I’m still working on the Tangled TV show, helping out here and there when I can. Yeah, it’s been fun.
Chris: It’s beautiful. The images they’ve released are just beautiful. I’m so excited, it looks great! Oh my god. Okay, how about Jenn Ely? Jenn, welcome back!
Jenn: Thanks! Yeah, thanks for having me!
Chris: Jenn, what have you been up to since you were last on the Artcast?
Jenn: Oh man, yeah, I think when we last talked, I was kind of just diving into freelance full time and I had no idea what that was going to be like. And I’m coming off of a solid year of it and it’s kind of great. You know, I get to work with a lot of different people, I never know what projects I’m going to be on next week, it’s kind of amazing some of the stuff I’ve gotten to do and it’s just been all across the board. And I find that really exciting right now to be jumping in and out of so many different things and being exposed to so many different ways of working and different kinds of medium. And I think we might have even talked a little bit about this last time, I can’t recall, but On Ice is coming out soon which is a short that I did with Shannon Tindle who I might at like a…he’s the director for the short film. It’s a Google Spotlight story. So that was really cool, because it’s this interactive medium you know? It’s like you can move your phone anywhere and see any part of it and that was such a crazy cool experience. We were mono-production designing and that I was such a fan of his so….yeah, it was an amazing experience and it was nominated for an Annie, the short film, which we were all so excited about because we worked really hard on it. And yeah, I’m pumped that people are going to be able to see it soon and that’s just one of the things I worked on this year but it’s been kind of a crazy road.
Chris: Yeah, you’ve had a lot of big clients and a lot of very…a ton of responsibility. It’s really crazy.
Jenn: It’s just different hat all the time you know, I do a lot of work in commercials now all of a sudden, which is really cool because it’s something where you jump in and it’s small teams. So you’re trying to figure out things pretty quickly and you’re also wearing every hat. And it’s just a really fun challenge every time, there’s something really alive about it and I enjoy that a lot. I get to still pull into stop motion, I did a little work with Laika this year and different things like that. I really like still being able to keep touch with that world because I’m still in love with these physical things, you know? So that’s always going to be close to my heart but um, I’m doing a lot of stuff in CG and 2D sometimes as well. It’s all across the board and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Chris: Oh, that’s so exciting. And Brian, I think we can’t get too detailed about what going on. I can personally say that I’m beyond thrilled…I want to say recent developments, but they’ve been developing for a while. There’s some kind of important moments that have happened recently and I’m being vague because I don’t know how much to say so I’ll just leave it to you to update us.
Brian: Okay, well, uh yeah, I got a call from a publisher which I don’t know if I can name but they were fans of my books and they wanted me to do something for them. So it looks like right now there’s a two-book deal. One is a non-fiction book that is a lot like my other books, only it’s a graphic. I keep saying graphic novel because I don’t know what you call that thing, that non-fiction thing that’s graphic.
Chris: Scott McCloud. That’s what we call it.
Brian: Scott McCloud, yeah. So it’s along those lines I’d say. And then the other piece was a screen play that everybody loved but nobody wanted for some reason. And these publishers loved it, and I loved it too. I didn’t like the idea of seeing it die on the vine, so I was really happy that they liked the story and want to go with it. So it looks good, everything looks good. Knock on wood, but it’s been a long process and yeah, so other than that I’m doing my work with the film school in Seattle. It’s called The Film School which is the most confusing name on earth. I tell people I’m working at The Film School. “Which one?” Well, Film School. So I work with The Film School which is great and I do of course the Red Badge Project where we teach veterans with PTSD how to tell stories to help them with their therapy, and working with the University of Washington in their animation Capstone as I do every year, helping them shape a story that they produce every year. I think that’s it, that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing.
Chris: A few things going on. We’ve been talking a lot at Oatley Academy about this idea of a pure story, and when I say this I almost mean almost like the force. It’s the idea of the essence of a story and that idea of pure story is platform or format agnostic. I have this notion that stories kind of have a destiny in a way. Like if it really is a story, and it really is good, and I mean that in kind of an all-encompassing kind of general sense. I intend to be kind of vague there because it is this kind of abstract idea, but it’s almost like it will find a way. And it’s your job as the story teller to kind of believe in it, right? And kind of insist on manifesting that pure story in a consumable way somehow. Does that make any sense? Like if it can’t be a screen play then make it a graphic novel. Like find a way, if you really know and you really believe that the story should be told, then dang it! Tell it!
Brian: I see what you’re saying.
Chris: And in fact, yeah we were declaring that you and I were just having a conversation about that same idea this week, like it doesn’t have to be a certain way. Yes, maybe that was your initial idea for the project or something but it doesn’t have to. If you really love that story and you feel passionate about it, find a way that fits whatever kind of economic reality the project is facing and tell it. Anyway, I’m interested in your thoughts on that either of you actually.
Brian: Go ahead, Clarie.
Claire: Well, I mean that is so what I’ve been dealing with lately about just trying to see, like what is possible in animation these days and realizing that everything’s possible. And right now, just to do something just the way that the big studio’s do it is just one way, and there is like an infinite amount of ways to do it and it’s more of a daunting task figuring out how to get something done because you have to figure out what that pipeline is going to be or how to get it made. But the potential could be just massively beautiful in ways that we’ve never seen before.
Chris: Yeah, it’s very exciting and it is doable. Like people prove this over and over and over again, especially with the digital connected world, it is doable. And just like you said Claire, it’s not easy but it’s not impossible and you can find a way to kind of balance restrictions. And in fact, like you and I were discussing, oftentimes these are welcomed restrictions, it’s like oh good, I don’t have to deal with the 120 million dollar budget. Like good news for me, I can just focus on working with less risks so to speak. And so that’s very exciting and really I think it has always taken audacity and single-mindedness to make a movie or a graphic novel or whatever. But yeah, I guess that’s the point. Brian, do you have anything you want to add to that, especially given your creative challenger you’ve been facing of taking what was kind of a screen play and you were kind of novelizing it and now you’re pivoting again in this new manifestation.
Brian: What’s interesting is that I don’t feel like I have an expertise when it comes to writing straight prose, right? I’m sort of trained to write screenplays, like trying to write stories with pictures. And as much as I would like to be able to just go in and write a novel from a screenplay, it’s not that easy for me and it’s also…like I say it’s conceived in pictures, so it’s nice to be able to have sort of a parallel medium. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s close enough. It’s a visual medium. So I feel pretty good about having that avenue and that does open up possibilities. If that didn’t exist, then a screenplay is too expensive to produce or it could be. I could make it cheaply but I think it would need a budget. So it’s nice because there’s no budget really in a graphic novel. If you want an army, you can have an army.
Chris: Tell that to the artist.
Brian: The artist can indicate it…
Chris: Yeah, right.
Brian: I have to draw it…but you could do that and it’s like radio is like that too. Radio had no restrictions that way, so that’s kind of nice. So it’s nice to have these different avenues, but I think one of the traps that people fall into is that they often don’t take advantage of the strengths of the medium they’re working in because they’re thinking about so many other mediums that this thing could work in. Does that make sense?
Brian: So even though I think story transcends whatever medium you’re using to tell it, the medium you’re using to tell it does have an impact on how that story is told.
Chris: Yeah, I think that’s why people fall in love with a particular format. It’s why people fall in love with comics specifically or with children’s books specifically because there’s something about that specific format that works for them and they love the challenge of getting really good at that specific thing.
Brian: Well yeah, everything has it’s restrictions and those restrictions become the strengths of that medium.
Chris: Yeah. Oh, that’s really good. That’s a sound bite. I’m going to make that a ring tone.
Claire: That is good.
Chris: Anything you want to add Claire, to that?
Claire: Yeah, well I just kind of keep going back to this idea that with the restrictions, sometimes we find ourselves fantasizing about something else that’s not us that sometimes we don’t even see our own talents and see that we can…that it’s because of who we are and our own restrictions that is what is going to make your project sing or whatever it is that you’re doing. And sometimes we’re just kind of blind to our own potential, and it’s so much better when we can capitalize on what it is that we naturally have. And I think a lot of people tend to kind of gloss over it and not see it or downplay it.
Jenn: I love that idea and that you said that because I think for me, I relate to it in two ways. Like I think about when I was somebody trying to break into the industry how I was thinking so much about what was expected or what people wanted to see, or what I thought would make me successful and I think I was very consumed with that and trying to fit myself into a mold rather than going – what am I? What do I have to give? What makes that something people would want? So there’s that aspect and even just you know, as somebody who’s been in animation in a relatively short amount of time and is kind of branching out into other areas. Like I talked a little bit to DC this year and they’re branching out a lot into other kinds of image makers. You’ve got Helen Chin doing a lot of stuff and things that are maybe a little less…they look a little less traditional in the comic sense. And that’s such a cool thing and they had reached out to me because of this like really silly Wonder Woman sketch dailies thing that I did which I’m totally into. I think people who can make sequential art are so amazing and I am in love with that world but also just like intimidated by it because I’ve never done anything like that. And one of the things they said to me was like, “We love that. We love that you don’t know how to do those things and we’re interested in that, and seeing what would happen.”
Claire: That’s great.
Jenn: Yeah, I just think that’s so cool to think about it that way. I think that’s such a positive empowering way to think about it.